Monday, May 25, 2015

Dear Family,
   This was a great week! The days are flying by and I really am loving every single second. I love being here. I love it. I feel so blessed by all the opportunities that I have every day. I'm an instrument in the Lord's hands and we're seeing miracles daily, both in others and in ourselves. I hit my 18 month mark this last week! Can you believe it! I did it! Yeah, it was a wonderful week. I loved all of the lessons that I was able to learn about following the Spirit this week.
   We had a really amazing activity this week in place of a zone conference this transfer. It meant a lot to me and strengthened my testimony and desire to follow the Spirit in all aspects of the work and of my life. I've loved our theme we've had in our mission this transfer on being led by the Spirit. I love the line in Preach My Gospel that states that our task is to be worthy of the Spirit and ready and willing to act on it's promptings courageously. (To paraphrase) I want to always do my best to live worthily so that I can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And I'm working on my ability to courageously trust and act on the promptings we receive. But I can definitely say that one of the greatest things I've gained on my mission is a testimony of how to seek for the answers and direction that I need. Prayer, scripture study, and following the Spirit. The basics are so powerful. I'm leaving with a greater confidence in the Lord's ability to direct and guide me. I'm so grateful for that. It really is so important for all of us to always have the Spirit with us. The Spirit will comfort and strengthen us in times of trial and pain, he will warn us and protect us from danger, he will bring us joy and peace when we do what is right, he will help us to recognize answers to our questions and concerns. President Eyring said in this last conference, "When you pray, you always plead with God that He will bless you with His Spirit. You will need the Holy Ghost not once but as much as God will grant it to you for your constant companion." I know that this is so true and so important. I know that on my mission I have become a lot more aware of and sensitive to how the Spirit speaks to me. That is a blessing that I will always be grateful for. It will affect me for the rest of my life. I want to always be worthy of the Spirit so that I can feel those promptings, that comfort, guidance, and peace all the time. "We must pray for it and work to have it." It is so worth it. :) As you've probably seen in the pictures I sent, on the hike we went on with President and Sister Felix this week we did several different activities to teach us things about the Spirit. One of them was that we had to do a large amount of the hike blindfolded! Only having instructions or promptings from your companion to direct you! Let me just say, that takes a lot of trust to hike a mountain blind. Good thing I trust Sister Wilson. ;) It was a wonderful activity though, we learned a lot, and had fun spending time with all of the missionaries. We were up in Newbury Park, and it was fun to be in my first area, church building, and on a familiar hike. It was a wonderful activity. Guess what Dad, President Felix has an Avalon. Is that the one you got?
    We had exchanges this week and Sister Nicholas, me, and Sister Wilson all stayed here and worked in Camarillo for the day. I know! I got to be with both of them. All three of us have been companions with each other in the past, and since we all served together in Ventura too, we're super good friends. We were so excited to work together. It was a wonderful day. We worked hard, had fun, talked about a lot of memories and inside jokes, and strengthened and encouraged each other. I loved being with these two sisters. My MTC companion and then one of my closest companions. The three of us enjoyed our time together serving, teaching, and working together to help the people we came across. We saw several miracles. One of which was in a lesson we had with our recent convert E. He hasn't come to church in months, and he's reading and praying and has a strong testimony, but he got out of the habit and was now embarrassed and scared to go back. Something sunk in during our lesson this week though. I think the relationships of trust that he had for each of the three of us made a big difference. Sister Nicholas taught him before he was baptized. He knew Sister Wilson when she was here a year ago too. And I feel like E. and I bonded pretty fast early on in the transfer because of something we were able to help him out with. So it's clear that he looked up to and trusted each of us a lot. He opened up a lot and and we listened, addressed his concerns, encouraged, and testified to him, and by the end he seemed humbly excited and courageous. And to end the story, he came to church yesterday!!! For the first time since November! He texted us afterwards to tell us that he felt good again, he felt the Spirit and that he will do his best to be there every week from now on. I love that brother and I'm so happy for him that he was able to step back into this lifestyle. I know it will bless him so much and he's excited to work towards going to the temple in a year. So yeah, exchanges were wonderful. Being with two of my closest mission friends for my last exchange was special, and it was wonderful to teach with them. We saw another miracle in the act of doing service, yard work for a nonmember neighbor of a family in our ward. After service, she opened up a ton to us and asked for help and prayers. She's willing to have us come back to share more with her and with her struggling daughter. It was special to be used by the Lord to be there for someone who was in need of comfort and help.
    As I get closer to the end of my mission, things are getting a bit harder in the way that part of me really doesn't want to leave anymore. I love teaching. I love testifying. I love serving. I love loving others. I just love being a missionary, and it's hard to be in my last week. Of course I'm excited and happy to go home and to apply things there and to be with all of you, my loved ones. But I'm nervous about adjusting to that as well. It's alright though, I do feel peace, strength, and courage coming from Heavenly Father. It will all work out just right. And I know I'll be super happy and excited. :) I'm looking forward to my departing interview with President Felix on Thursday this week in Oxnard. I'll let you know how all of this week goes. It will be a wonderful week. I can feel it. I love being here and this week will be full of wonderful moments. I love being a missionary! And yes, I'm super excited to see all of you too. Prepare the way. I'll email you again on Monday and then you just have a few short days. Crazy stuff! I love you all. Have a fantastic week! Onward, ever onward! :)
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~18 Months! I did it! :)

~Me and Sister Wilson on the hike. It was my turn to direct.

~Our wonderful tri-pan: me, Sister Wilson, and Sister Olsen

~My turn to walk by faith. ;) Plenty of instruction from Sister Wilson and Elder Fagan.

~Emma, I took this picture and I felt like I looked just like you in it, so here you go.

~Sister Wilson kindly trimmed off my dead stuff. :P That's a lot of trust.

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